James, Henry

views updated May 11 2018

JAMES, Henry

Nationality: British. Born: New York City, 15 April 1843; brother of the philosopher William James; became British citizen, 1915. Education: The Richard Pulling Jenks School, New York; traveled with his family in Europe from an early age; studied with tutors in Geneva, London, Paris, and Boulogne, 1855-58; studied with tutor, Geneva, 1859; studied with tutor, Bonn, 1860; lived with his family in Newport, Rhode Island, 1860-62; attended Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1862-63. Career: Lived with his family in Cambridge and wrote for Nation and Atlantic Monthly, 1866-69; toured Europe, 1869-70; returned to Cambridge, 1870-72; art critic, Atlantic Monthly, 1871-72; lived in Europe, 1872-74; lived in Cambridge, 1875; lived in Paris, 1875-76; writer for New York Tribune, Paris, 1875-76; moved to London, 1876, and lived in England for the rest of his life; settled in Rye, Sussex, 1896; traveled throughout the United States, 1904-05. Awards: L.H.D.: Harvard University, 1911; Oxford University, 1912. Order of Merit, 1916. Died: 28 February 1916.



Novels and Stories, edited by Percy Lubbock. 35 vols., 1921-24.

Complete Plays, edited by Leon Edel. 1949.

Complete Tales, edited by Leon Edel. 12 vols., 1962-64.

Representative Selections, revised edition, edited by Lyon N. Richardson. 1966.

Tales, edited by Maqbool Aziz. 1973—.

Novels 1871-1880 and 1881-1886 (Library of America), edited by William T. Stafford. 2 vols., 1983-85.

Literary Criticism (Library of America), edited by Leon Edel. 2 vols., 1984.

Tales, edited by Christof Wegelin. 1984.

Novels 1886-1890 (Library of America), edited by Daniel M. Fogel. 1987.

Selected Writings. 1997.

Short Stories

A Passionate Pilgrim and Other Tales. 1875.

Daisy Miller: A Study. 1878.

The Madonna of the Future and Other Tales. 1879.

A Bundle of Letters. 1880.

The Diary of a Man of Fifty, and A Bundle of Letters. 1880.

Novels and Tales. 14 vols., 1883.

The Siege of London, The Pension Beaurepas, and The Point of View. 1883; revised edition, 1884.

Tales of Three Cities. 1884.

The Author of Beltraffio, Pandora, Georgina's Reasons, The Path of Duty, Four Meetings. 1885.

Stories Revived. 1885.

The Aspern Papers, Louisa Pallant, The Modern Warning. 1888.

A London Life, The Patagonia, The Liar, Mrs. Temperly. 1889.

The Lesson of the Master, The Marriages, The Pupil, Brooksmith, The Solution, Sir Edmund Orme. 1892.

The Real Thing and Other Tales. 1893.

The Private Life, The Wheel of Time, Lord Beaupré, The Visits, Collaboration, Owen Wingrave. 1893.

Terminations: The Death of the Lion, The Coxon Fund, The Middle Years, The Altar of the Dead. 1895.

Embarrassments: The Figure in the Carpet, Glasses, The Next Time, The Way It Came. 1896.

The Two Magics: The Turn of the Screw, Covering End. 1898; The Turn of the Screw, edited by Robert Kimbrough, 1966.

The Soft Side. 1900.

The Better Sort. 1903.

Novels and Tales (New York Edition), revised by James. 26 vols., 1907-17.

Travelling Companions, edited by Albert Mordell. 1919.

A Landscape Painter, edited by Albert Mordell. 1919.

Master Eustace. 1920.

Eight Uncollected Tales, edited by Edna Kenton. 1950.

The Lesson of the Master, The Death of the Lion, The Next Time, and Other Tales. 1997.


Roderick Hudson. 1875; revised edition, 1879.

The American. 1877.

Watch and Ward. 1878.

The Europeans: A Sketch. 1878.

An International Episode. 1879.

Confidence. 1879.

Washington Square. 1881.

The Portrait of a Lady. 1881.

The Bostonians. 1886.

The Princess Casamassima. 1886.

The Reverberator. 1888.

The Tragic Muse. 1890.

The Other House. 1896.

The Spoils of Poynton. 1897; edited by Bernard Richards, 1982.

What Maisie Knew. 1897; edited by Douglas Jefferson, 1966.

In the Cage. 1898; edited by Morton Dauwen Zabel, 1958.

The Awkward Age. 1899; edited by Vivien Jones, 1984.

The Sacred Fount. 1901; edited by Leon Edel, 1953.

The Wings of the Dove. 1902; edited by Peter Brooks, 1984.

The Ambassadors. 1903; edited by Christopher Butler, 1985.

The Golden Bowl. 1904; edited by Virginia Llewellyn Smith, 1983.

Julia Bride. 1909.

The Finer Grain. 1910.

The Outcry. 1911.

The Ivory Tower, edited by Percy Lubbock. 1917.

The Sense of the Past, edited by Percy Lubbock. 1917.

Gabrielle de Bergerac, edited by Albert Mordell. 1918.


Daisy Miller, from his own story. 1883.

The American, from his own novel (produced 1891). 1891.

Guy Domville (produced 1895). 1894.

Theatricals (includes Tenants, Disengaged) (produced 1909). 1894.

Theatricals: Second Series (includes The Album, The Reprobate)(produced 1919). 1894.

The High Bid (produced 1908). In Complete Plays, 1949.

The Saloon (produced 1911). In Complete Plays, 1949.

The Outcry (produced 1917). In Complete Plays, 1949.


Transatlantic Sketches. 1875; revised edition, as Foreign Parts, 1883.

French Poets and Novelists. 1878; revised edition, 1883; edited by Leon Edel, 1964.

Hawthorne. 1879; edited by William M. Sale, Jr., 1956.

Portraits of Places. 1883.

Notes on a Collection of Drawings by George du Maurier. 1884.

A Little Tour in France. 1884; revised edition, 1900.

The Art of Fiction, with Walter Besant. 1885 (?); edited by LeonEdel, in The House of Fiction, 1957.

Partial Portraits. 1888.

Picture and Text. 1893.

Essays in London and Elsewhere. 1893.

William Wetmore Story and His Friends. 2 vols., 1903.

The Question of Our Speech, The Lesson of Balzac: Two Lectures. 1905.

English Hours. 1905; edited by Alma Louise Lowe, 1960.

The American Scene. 1907; edited by Leon Edel, 1968.

View and Reviews. 1908.

Italian Hours. 1909.

The Henry James Year Book, edited by Evelyn Garnaut Smalley. 1911.

Autobiography, edited by F. W. Dupee. 1956.

A Small Boy and Others. 1913.

Notes of a Son and Brother. 1914.

The Middle Years, edited by Percy Lubbock. 1917.

Notes on Novelists and Some Other Notes. 1914.

Letters to an Editor. 1916.

Within the Rim and Other Essays 1914-1915. 1919.

Letters, edited by Percy Lubbock. 2 vols., 1920.

Notes and Reviews. 1921.

A Most Unholy Trade, Being Letters on the Drama. 1923.

Three Letters to Joseph Conrad, edited by Gerard Jean-Aubry. 1926.

Letters to Walter Berry. 1928.

Letters to A. C. Benson and Auguste Monod, edited by E. F. Benson. 1930.

Theatre and Friendship: Some James Letters, edited by ElizabethRobins. 1932.

The Art of the Novel: Critical Prefaces, edited by R. P. Blackmur. 1934.

Notebooks, edited by F. O. Matthiessen and Kenneth B. Murdock. 1947.

The Art of Fiction and Other Essays, edited by Morris Roberts. 1948.

James and Robert Louis Stevenson: A Record of Friendship and Criticism, edited by Janet Adam Smith. 1948.

The Scenic Art: Notes on Acting and the Drama 1872-1901, edited by Allan Wade. 1948.

Daumier, Caricaturist. 1954.

The American Essays, edited by Leon Edel. 1956.

The Future of the Novel: Essays on the Art of the Novel, edited by Leon Edel. 1956; as The House of Fiction, 1957.

The Painter's Eye: Notes and Essays on the Pictorial Arts, edited by John L. Sweeney. 1956.

Parisian Sketches: Letters to the New York Tribune 1875-1876, edited by Leon Edel and Ilse Dusoir Lind. 1957.

Literary Reviews and Essays on American, English, and French Literature, edited by Albert Mordell. 1957.

James and H. G. Wells: A Record of Their Friendship, Their Debate on the Art of Fiction, and Their Quarrel, edited by Leon Edel and Gordon N. Ray. 1958.

The Art of Travel: Scenes and Journeys in America, England, France, and Italy, edited by Morton Dauwen Zabel. 1958.

French Writers and American Women: Essays, edited by PeterBuitenhuis. 1960.

Selected Literary Criticism, edited by Morris Shapira. 1963.

James and John Hay: The Record of a Friendship, edited by George Monteiro. 1965.

Switzerland in the Life and Work of James: The Clare Benedict Collection of Letters from James, edited by Jörg Hasler. 1966.

Letters, edited by Leon Edel. 4 vols., 1974-84; Selected Letters, 1987.

The Art of Criticism: James on the Theory and Practice of Fiction, edited by William Veeder and Susan M. Griffin. 1986.

The Complete Notebooks, edited by Leon Edel and Lyall H. Powers. 1986.

The Critical Muse: Selected Literary Criticism, edited by RogerGard. 1987.

Selected Letters to Edmund Gosse 1882-1915: A Literary Friendship, edited by Rayburn S. Moore. 1988.

Letters 1900-1915, with Edith Wharton, edited by Lyall H. Powers. 1990.

Letters, Fictions, Lives: Henry James and William Dean Howells. 1997.

Translator, Port Tarascon, by Alphonse Daudet. 1891.



A Bibliography of James by Leon Edel and Dan H. Laurence, 1957, revised edition, 1961, 1982; James: A Bibliography of Secondary Works by Beatrice Ricks, 1975; James 1917-1959: A Reference Guide by Kristin Pruitt McColgan, 1979; James 1960-1974: A Reference Guide by Dorothy M. Scura, 1979; James 1866-1916: A Reference Guide by Linda J. Taylor, 1982; James: A Bibliography of Criticism 1975-1981 by John Budd, 1983; An Annotated Critical Bibliography of James by Nicola Bradbury, 1987; James 1975-1987: A Reference Guide by Judith E. Funston, 1991.

Critical Studies:

James by Rebecca West, 1916; James: The Major Phase, 1944, and The James Family, 1947, both by F. O. Matthiessen; The Great Tradition: George Eliot, James, Joseph Conrad by F. R. Leavis, 1948; James (biography) by Leon Edel, 5 vols., 1953-72, revised edition, 2 vols., 1978; The American James by Quentin Anderson, 1957; The Comic Sense of James: A Study of the Early Novels by Richard Poirier, 1960; The Novels of James by Oscar Cargill, 1961; The Imagination of Disaster: Evil in the Fiction of James, 1961, and Search for Form: Studies in the Structure of James's Fiction, 1967, both by J. A. Ward; The Ordeal of Consciousness in James by Dorothea Krook, 1962; James and the Jacobites by Maxwell Geismar, 1963, as James and His Cult, 1964; The Expense of Vision: Essays on the Craft of James by Laurence B. Holland, 1964; The Caught Image: Figurative Language in the Fiction of James, 1964, Plots and Characters in the Fiction of James, 1965, and A James Encyclopedia, 1989, all by Robert L. Gale; Technique in the Tales of James by K. B. Vaid, 1964; The Imagination of Loving: James's Legacy to the Novel by Naomi Lebowitz, 1965; The Ironic Dimension in the Fiction of James by John A. Clair, 1965; An Anatomy of The Turn of the Screw by Thomas Mabry Cranfill and Robert Lanier Clark, Jr., 1965; James by Bruce McElderry, 1965; James: A Reader's Guide, 1966, as A Reader's Guide to James, 1966, and A Preface to James, 1986, both by S. Gorley Putt; James and the Children: A Consideration of James's The Turn of the Screw by Eli Siegel, edited by Martha Baird, 1968; James: The Critical Heritage edited by Roger Gard, 1968; James, 1968, and James: The Writer and His Work, 1985, both by Tony Tanner; The Negative Imagination: Form and Perspective in the Novels of James by Sallie Sears, 1969; The Early Tales of James by James Kraft, 1969; The Fictional Characters of James by Muriel G. Shine, 1969; James and the Visual Arts by Viola Hopkins Winner, 1970; The Grasping Imagination: TheAmerican Writings of James by Peter Buitenhuis, 1970; James and the Naturalist Movement by Lyall H. Powers, 1971; The Ambiguity of James by Charles Thomas Samuels, 1971; James and the Occult by Martha Banta, 1972, and New Essays on The American edited by Banta, 1987; James and the French Novel by Philip Grover, 1973; Reading James by Louis Auchincloss, 1975; James: The Drama of Fulfilment: An Approach to the Novels by Kenneth Graham, 1975; James and the Comic Form by Ronald Wallace, 1975; James, The Lessons of the Master: Popular Fiction and Personal Style in the Nineteenth Century by William Veeder, 1975; Communities of Honor and Love in James by Manfred Mackenzie, 1976; Language and Knowledge in the Late Novels of James by Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 1976; Who's Who in James by Glenda Leeming, 1976; Person, Place and Thing in James's Novels by Charles R. Anderson, 1977; The Crystal Cage: Adventures of the Imagination in the Fiction of James by Daniel J. Schneider, 1978; A Rhetoric of Literary Character: Some Women of James by Mary Doyle Springer, 1978; Eve and James: Portraits of Women and Girls in His Fiction, 1978, The Novels of James, 1983, and The Tales of James, 1984, all by Edward Wagenknecht; James and the Experimental Novel by Sergio Perosa, 1978; The Novels of James: A Study of Culture and Consciousness by Brian Lee, 1978; James: The Later Novels by Nicola Bradbury, 1979; Love and the Quest for Identity in the Fiction of James by Philip Sicker, 1980; Writing and Reading in James by Susanne Kappeler, 1980; Culture and Conduct in the Novels of James by Alwyn Berland, 1981; The Literary Criticism of James by Sarah B. Daugherty, 1981; James and the Structure of the Romantic Imagination by Daniel M. Fogel, 1981; James and Impressionism by James J. Kirschke, 1981; The Insecure World of James's Fiction: Intensity and Ambiguity by Ralf Norrman, 1982; The Drama of Discrimination in James by Susan Reibel Moore, 1982; The Expense of Vision: Essays on the Craft of James edited by Laurence B. Holland, 1982; James: The Early Novels by Robert Emmet Long, 1983; James and the Mass Market by Marcia Ann Jacobson, 1983; Studies in James by R. P. Blackmur, edited by Veronica A. Makowsky, 1983; The Phenomenology of James by Paul Armstrong, 1983; James: Interviews and Recollections edited by Norman Page, 1984; Imagination and Desire in the Novels of James by Carren Kaston, 1984; James the Critic by Vivien Jones, 1984; James and the Art of Power by Mark Seltzer, 1984; A Woman's Place in the Novels of James by Elizabeth Allen, 1984; The Ambassadors, 1984, and James, 1988, both by Alan W. Bellringer; James: Fiction as History, 1984, and James and the Past, 1990, both edited by Ian F. A. Bell; Women of Grace: James's Plays and the Comedy of Manners by Susan Carlson, 1985; The Theoretical Dimensions of James by John Carlos Rowe, 1985; James and the Darkest Abyss of Romance by William R. Goetz, 1986; The Museum World of James, 1986, and The Book World of James, 1987, both by Adeline R. Tintner; Friction with the Market: James and the Profession of Authorship by Michael Anesko, 1986; Desire and Repression: The Dialectic of Self and Other in the Late Works of James by Donna Przybylowicz, 1986; Critical Essays on James edited by James W. Gargano, 2 vols., 1987; James and the Evolution of Consciousness: A Study of The Ambassadors by Courtney Johnson, Jr., 1987; Order and Design: James's Titled Story Sequences by Richard P. Gage, 1988; A Ring of Conspirators: James and His Literary Circle 1895-1915 by Miranda Seymour, 1988; Desire and Love in James: A Study of the Late Novels by David McWhirter, 1989; Thinking in James by Sharon Cameron, 1989; James and the "Woman Business" by Alfred Habegger, 1989; James's Portrait of the Writer as Hero by Sara S. Chapman, 1990; New Essays on The Portrait of a Lady edited by Joel Porte, 1990; Professions of Taste: James, British Aestheticism, and Commodity Culture by Jonathan Freedman, 1990; The French Side of James by Edwin Fussell, 1990; James: A Study of the Short Fiction by Richard A. Hocks, 1991; James: The Imagination of Genius (biography) by Fred Kaplan, 1992; Henry James and Masculinity: The Man at the Margins by Kelly Cannon, 1994; Henry James, Gertrude Stein and the Biographical Act by Charles Caramello, 1996; Collaborations: A Reading of Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady by Geoff Walker, 1996; The Politics of Authorship: Henry James's System of Writing by Sanae Tokizane, 1996; Henry James: The Later Writing by Barbara Nathan Hardy, 1996; Henry James and the Writing of Race and Nation by Sara Blair, 1996; False Positions: The Representational Logics of Henry James's Fiction by Julie Rivkin, 1996; Henry James: The Young Master by Sheldon M. Novick, 1996; Aesthetic Persuasion: Henry James, the Jews, and Race by Eli Ben-Joseph, 1996; The Ambassadors: Consciousness, Culture, Poetry by Richard A. Hocks, 1997; Henry James's Last Romance: Making Sense of the Past and American Scene by Beverly Haviland, 1997; The Prefaces of Henry James: Framing the Modern Reader John H. Pearson, 1997; The Turn of the Mind: Constituting Consciousness in Henry James by Adré Marshall, 1997; Henry James and Sexuality by Hugh Stevens, 1998.

* * *

Henry James used his notebooks to converse with himself; in them James the diarist upbraids, cajoles, praises, and encourages James the author. In a 19 May 1889 entry he expresses "the desire that the literary heritage, such as it is, poor thing, that I may leave, shall consist of a large number of perfect short things, nouvelles and tales, illustrative of ever so many things in life—in the life I see and know and feel…." The reader hears in these words the weariness of a writer who, in his mid-40s, had already published 23 books of one kind or another and whose most recent novels (The Bostonians and The Princess Casamassima) had not been well received. Though James would in fact see another 32 books of his published during his lifetime, one readily sympathizes with this emphatic desire (which, incidentally, he expressed repeatedly throughout his career) to restrict himself to fictions that are " short " and "perfect."

In a later entry James advised himself to "try to make use, for the brief treatment, of nothing, absolutely nothing, that isn't ONE, as it were—that doesn't begin and end in its little self" (8 September 1895). A master theorist as well as a consummate artist, James wrote voluminously if unsystematically about all aspects of writing, often using different terms to describe the same idea; suffice it to say that in the course of a lifetime he produced 112 shorter works, variously labeled by him as "anecdote," "tale," and "short story" (all of which are comparatively brief in length), as well as "nouvelle" (a longer work such as Daisy Miller). With a few exceptions each of these has the virtue of being "perfect": as opposed to his ambiguous, open-ended, often deeply troubling novels, James's stories tend to be linear representations of complex if foreshortened actions that terminate decisively.

For his themes James had only to look into his own celibate, cosmopolitan, highly mannered existence ("the life I see and know and feel") and see there the nexus of all that was splendid and deadly. Art, love, money, freedom: each of these enhances and destroys in James's world. One always pays a price for whatever is worth having, and answered prayers often result in unhappiness for James's hapless protagonists. Though he often complained of his solitary state, James saw himself as a kind of high priest of art, one who rejected the conventions of career, spouse, lover, and children in order to be able to pursue a craft that required absolute solitude. Thus, much of his work examines the connection between personal relations (or their lack) and the artistic or at least the aesthetic life, with the implication that the choices one makes will always be difficult and, if worthwhile in one way, costly in another.

A notable instance of this conflict between art and love is seen in "The Lesson of the Master," in which the young novelist Paul Overt is advised by his older colleague Henry St. George not to marry, as St. George himself has done. Overt takes this advice, even though he has fallen in love with Marian Fancourt, whom he renounces. Later Overt learns that Mrs. St. George has died and that the older novelist will marry Marian. The angry younger man accuses the older of betraying him, but St. George (who has, in fact, given up writing) tells Overt that he has done him a favor.

Not all of James's tormented protagonists are artists like Paul Overt, though all but a few are artistic types: sensitive, well-read men and women whose lives are governed as much by aesthetic choices as by economic, social, or moral ones. Pemberton, for example, the hero of "The Pupil," is an impoverished Oxford student who is compelled to work as tutor for the penurious Moreens, to whose eleven-year-old son, the sickly Morgan, he finds himself increasingly devoted. So great is Pemberton's affection, as a matter of fact, that he continues to tutor his charge even when the parents can no longer pay. The story ends with an instance of that sophisticated horror of which James alone is capable: the worldly, amoral parents actually try to give Pemberton their son, and Morgan Moreen dies of the shock. Even though tutor and pupil both know that Pemberton would be a better parent than either of the Moreens, the trauma of parental rejection proves fatal.

James makes difficult choices central to his art because, as his letters and notebooks make clear, they were central to his life. Too, James, the consummate artist, frequently wrote about the art that was the chief concern of his solitary existence. One story in particular, "The Figure in the Carpet," has attracted ample attention from critics who use its central metaphor as the basis for their own explorations of James's work. Here novelist Hugh Vereker says there is a clear pattern to his work, a discernible "figure in the carpet" he alone knows. The story's critic-narrator confesses that he cannot see the pattern, even though his fellow critic George Corvick can. Corvick marries Gwendolyn Erme but dies on their honeymoon, and she then marries the second-rate critic Drayton Deane. After her death the narrator asks Deane if his wife had confided in him the "figure" that Corvick must have described to her, but the thickheaded Deane knows nothing of it.

Stories like "The Figure in the Carpet" suggest that the objective truth may be discernible but is likely to be beyond one's grasp, a clearly written message buried so deeply that it can never be retrieved. This does not exonerate the Jamesian protagonist, though, who is always earnest, often to a fault. For all the refinement of James's fictional world, there is a bona fide work ethic in his major characters that makes each a strenuous seeker for something that he or she may never find. In life as in art, a handful of authors have matched James's production of "perfect short things" in quantity, but few have so devotedly infused craft with feeling that, though aesthetic and intellectual rather than personal and physical, is no less profound.

—David Kirby

See the essays on "The Aspern Papers," "The Beast in the Jungle," and The Turn of the Screw.

Henry James

views updated May 21 2018

Henry James

The American author Henry James (1843-1916) was one of the major novelists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His works deal largely with the impact of Europe and its society on Americans.

Henry James, the son of a theologian and the brother of the philosopher William James, was born on April 15, 1843, at Washington Place in New York City. His childhood was spent in the city and in Albany and then, between the ages of 12 and 17, in Europe. He was privately tutored in London, Geneva, and Paris. His American education began at school in Newport, R.I. James entered Harvard Law School in 1862, leaving after a year. In 1864 his family settled in Boston and then in Cambridge. That same year he published his first story and early reviews.

James's frequent appearances in the Atlantic Monthly began in 1865. Four years later he traveled again in England, France, and Italy, returning to Cambridge in 1870 and publishing his first novel, Watch and Ward. It concerned American life in a specifically American setting, the upper-class world of Boston, its suburbs, and Newport. At the age of 29 James was again in Europe, spending a summer in Paris and most of 1873 in Rome, where he began Roderick Hudson. For a year in New York City he was part of the literary world of the era. His criticism appeared in 1874 and 1875 in the Nation and the North American Review. Also in 1875, Transatlantic Sketches, A Passionate Pilgrim, and Roderick Hudson appeared. Transatlantic Sketches is a travel book, as is A Passionate Pilgrim, which anticipates the theme of the European impact on what James repeatedly identified as the "American state of Innocence." Roderick Hudson is fiction on the same theme, a response to the colony of American expatriates James knew in Rome.

His Expatriation

James's disengagement from America was a long process; he wrote: "I saw my parents homesick, as I conceived, for the ancient order, and distressed and inconvenienced by many of the more immediate features of the modern, as the modern pressed about us, and since their theory of a better living was from an early time that we should renew the question of the ancient on the very first possibility I simply grew greater in the faith that somehow to manage that would constitute success in life." Living in Paris during 1876, James wrote The American. At the time, he knew Ivan Turgenev, Gustave Flaubert, Edmond de Goncourt, Émile Zola, and others. His expatriation was complete by the end of that year, when he settled in London.

The impact of his short novel Daisy Miller (1879) brought James fame in Europe and the United States; it was his first popular success. He explained the novel this way: "The whole idea of the story is the little tragedy of a light, thin, natural, unsuspecting creature being sacrificed as it were to a social rumpus that went on quite over her head and to which she stood in no measurable relation. To deepen the effect, I have made it go over her mother's head as well." James repeated the same effect, and intention, in several other novels and stories. In The Portrait of a Lady, for example, the effect is similar but more intricate. James mentioned his "Americano-European legends" as one of the central impulses of his work.

Between 1879 and 1882 James produced his first major series of novels. They were The Europeans, Washington Square, Confidence, and The Portrait of a Lady. Of the four, only Washington Square is about American life. By 1886 a 14-volume collection of his novels and tales was published. He wrote The Bostonians and The Princess Casamassima in 1886 while living in a flat in De Vere Gardens in London. Both are social dramas. "The Aspern Papers," the short novel The Reverberator, and "A London Life" appeared the following year. The Tragic Muse, one of his most ambitious novels, was serialized in the Atlantic Monthly in 1890.

James then entered a 5-year period in which he concentrated on writing drama. The American was produced as a play in London by Edward Compton. The effort ended in 1895, when he was jeered at the opening of his play Guy Domville at St. James's Theatre in London. He abandoned the stage. Almost never revived, his plays are included in two volumes, Theatricals and Theatricals: Second Series.

Later Career

A bachelor, James settled in Lamb House, Rye, in 1898, and continued his 20-year "siege" of English life and society. His schedule of concentrated work during the day and of relaxation at night produced in 1898 The Two Magics, a collection of stories that includes his novella "The Turn of the Screw" and the short novel In the Cage. What is frequently identified as his third and best phase began the following year with The Awkward Age, and between 1899 and 1904 he wrote The Sacred Fount, The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors, and The Golden Bowl. James himself described The Ambassadors as the "best -all round"' of his novels. In his early, middle, and later periods he relied explicitly on "devices" and the "grammar" of fiction, on "point of view," "scene," "dramatizing," selection of incidents, structure, and perspective. It was through technique that he isolated values, and he insisted that the primary values were "truth" and "life."

In September 1904 James returned to the United States after a 20-year absence, passing the fall with his brother William in New Hampshire and, later, revisiting New York City. After a year of lecturing he returned to Lamb House in England and began revising his fiction and writing the critical prefaces to the definitive New York edition of his work. During 1909 he suffered from a long nervous illness and produced a series of stories that appeared as The Finer Grain. He was in New Hampshire when William died after a long illness. Before returning to England in 1911, he received an honorary degree from Harvard; he received another from Oxford the following year.

James's autobiographical memoirs, A Small Boy and Others and Notes of a Son and Brother, were completed shortly before the outbreak of World War I. The war's disruption greatly disturbed him. He began war work in various hospitals, writing for war charities and aiding Belgian refugees. On July 26, 1915, James was naturalized as a British subject. Later in the year his last illness, a stroke and pneumonia, began. Before his death on Feb. 28, 1916, he received the Order of Merit from King George V. The funeral services were in Chelsea Old Church, London, and his ashes were buried in the family plot in Cambridge, Mass.

Further Reading

Critical and biographical material on James is extensive. The definitive biography is Leon Edel, Henry James (5 vols., 1953-1972). Other biographies are Van Wyck Brooks, The Pilgrimage of Henry James (1925), an early and influential book, and Quentin Anderson, The American Henry James (1957). F. W. Dupee, Henry James (1951; 2d ed. rev. 1956), is a critical biography. Millicent Bell, Edith Wharton and Henry James: The Story of Their Friendship (1965), contains correspondence of James to Mrs. Wharton and considerable biographical material. Oscar Cargill, The Novels of Henry James (1961), is an articulate introduction to his writing. Important critical studies of James are Joseph Warren Beach, The Method of Henry James (1918; rev. ed. 1954), and F. O. Matthiessen, Henry James: The Major Phase (1944). See also Christof Wegelin, The Image of Europe in Henry James (1958). Roger Gard, ed., Henry James: The Critical Heritage (1968), is a collection of reviews and articles on James and is useful in viewing responses to James's work from the late 19th to the early 20th century. □

James, Henry

views updated May 23 2018

James, Henry (1843–1916) US novelist, brother of William James. James settled (1876) in England and became a British subject in 1915. His early masterpiece The Portrait of a Lady (1881) contrasts the values of American and European society. The novels of his middle period, such as The Bostonians (1886), deal with political themes. His final novels, The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904) show his mastery of the psychological novel. Other works include The Turn of the Screw (1898).

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